Monday, February 9, 2015

What makes worship awesome...

A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to take a small group of our students to the Passion Conference in Houston. More than 13,000 other students (aged 18-25) and their leaders gathered together from all across the country for a few days of worship. It was truly an awesome experience to behold. I’ve been to a few larger concerts, but Passion was the first time I’ve ever joined with so many others in a time of singing praises to God. The large number of folks created a unique atmosphere, but it was not the most awe-inspiring part of the weekend.

We were challenged with the dynamic teaching and preaching of some amazing communicators like Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, Christine Caine, Ben Stuart, and Matt Chandler. Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, and Kristian Stanfill led us in corporate worship. We were challenged to work together in raising funds and awareness to put an end to global slavery and sex trafficking. We were also reminded of the more than 6,900 people groups that have yet to be engaged with the gospel of Jesus. On the second night of the conference, the 13,000 plus students and their leaders gave more than $300,000 dollars to help fund the sending of more than a dozen new mission teams to 14 previously unreached people groups. That was a really neat thing to see, but it was not the best part.

Each morning we got up early and headed to the Toyota Center for a day full of the stuff I mentioned above. Between sessions we dialogued about the things we saw and heard. Additionally, there were opportunities for us to meet in community groups. These groups divided all of these thousands of students and leaders into smaller units of eight. Here we continued to process through the weekend experience and its implications on our lives. And of course, at the end of the day we would find an IHOP or Denny’s to eat that fourth or fifth meal and debrief as a group. We laughed a lot and enjoyed sweet fellowship, but even this, as good as it was, was not the most precious part of our trip.

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On Saturday in his sermon entitled, “May I Never Lose the Wonder,” Francis Chan reminded us that it was not the amazing band of worship leaders that made our time of worship awesome. It was not the fact that so many young people had spent their time and money to travel to Houston to pack into an NBA arena to sing praises to God that made it awesome.  No, the thing that makes worship awesome is not an environment or a venue or the crowd or the sound quality, but the object of our worship. In fact, we should be worshipping in awe-struck wonder because we know that whether we are a group of several thousand, several hundred, or just several, He meets with us. Even better, God is available for intimate, one-on-one times as often as we seek Him.

IHOP (Mike not pictured)
Yes, this God that is calling us to be senders and goers, this One that has charged us to fight for justice, to speak for the neglected, abused, and enslaved, is the same God that knows us personally. He knows the things that will stir our affections for Him. He knows that some of us are going to better connect with Chandler, while others will jive with Giglio. He has created some to resonate with Crowder’s style more so than Tomlin. He ordains our trips, our coming and going. And this God…He is available. Whether we are worshipping on our morning drive to work or in a Sunday service with a local body, He is near and accessible. And whenever He is the object of our worship, whenever He receives the reflection, contemplation, and glory He’s due, our individual prayer time is deepened, our reading and understanding of Scripture is transformed, our relationship with God and others is enriched, and our corporate gatherings become nothing short of amazing, awe-inspiring, wonder filled moments of praise. May we never forget the One that makes worship awesome…

Matt Fowler
NBC Family Pastor of HS

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